It took only 10 weeks from planting to transform a bare patch of poor soil to a magical meadow alive with bees and birds in a Naramata, British Columbia, Canada garden.

From sceptic to meadow evangelist and more literally from septic to sun kissed field of beauty our making of a meadow project has been one of the most satisfying garden projects we have ever undertaken.

Our 2,500 square-foot traditional lawn that was watered, fertilized, aerated, and mown and mown and mown was the victim of a total failure of our old septic system. According to Owen Wormser, lawn mowing itself is a major source of pollution. Greenhouse gas emissions from mowing, along with fertilizer and pesticide production, watering, leaf blowing and other lawn management practices, were found by a University of California-Irvine study to be four times greater than the amount of carbon stored by grass. Lawns are an expensive, time-consuming ecological catastrophe.

Work being done to instal our new septic system and field gave us the opportunity to try something new rather than re-plant our lawn. That’s why I call this project from shit to shinola.

Step one

Plant a cover crop of rye grass to keep down the weeds and to fix nitrogen into our poor sandy soil.

We planted a cover crop of annual rye grass in the fall and kept it mowed to prevent it from going to seed.

Step 2

Till in the rye grass in early spring.

If you aren’t starting with bare ground you need to carefully remove all of your lawn grass as it will compete with your wildflower seedlings. This could mean lots of back-breaking shovelling or rent a turf cutter.

Step 3

Rough up the soil with a rake

Step 4


We chose a number of wildflower seed blends from

Here are the seed blends we chose for our project:

Pacific Northwest Wildflower Blend that includes Baby Blue-Eyes, Bird’s Eyes Gilia, California Poppy, Blue Flax, Blanket Flower…

Southern Prairies Wildflower Blend with Dotted Gayfeather, Greenthread, Hoary Vervain, Five-spot, Tidy-tips…

Hummingbird Wildflower Blend with Four O’Clocks, Lemon Bergamot, Scarlet Sage, Phlox, Wild Petunia…

Knee High Meadow Blend with Baby’s Breath, Black Eyed Susan, African Daisy….

Biodiversity Blend which includes basil, Bishops Flower, Lupin, Borage, Chinese Aster, Ox-Eye Daisy, Yellow Mustard…

And for good measure and because we like her… The Dr. Bonnie Henry Pollinator Blend which is a mix of Cosmos.

With regular irrigation to get the seeds going, here are the results of the first 10 weeks of our glorious meadow.

Week 1

It only took a week for tiny shoots to emerge.

Week 2

Week 3

Week 4

Week 5 and 6


Week 7

Chinese houses

Week 8

Our bees are getting happier and happier

Week 9

Poppies are making an appearance
We had to add some art
and a fountain for the birds

Week 10

When is the last time you sat having a coffee and experienced your lawn for an hour? Our meadow is alive with scents and colour and insect and bird activity. As a gardener I get a lot of pleasure out of a perennial bed planted up with 20 or 30 plants. Imagine two or three thousand flowers in an ever-changing tapestry of colour all ready for my camera lens. This is how a meadow evangelist is born.

Meadows offer a unique opportunity to help the planet from our own yards. They support many of the wild things that keep our ecosystems healthy and store carbon. Imagine sitting in a meadow and listening to the hummingbirds zooming from flower-to-flower, hear the background buzzing of the bees and watching swallowtail butterflies lighting here and there while the flora aroma engulfs you. Make room for some wildflowers, remove some or all of your unused lawn. If just a fraction of the existing lawns in Canada were turned into meadows, the ecological impact, especially on threatened pollinator species, would be immediately significant. All the preaching aside…it’s beautiful!